You likely have a bottle of rubbing alcohol in a cabinet to disinfect cuts or scrapes and sanitize hard surfaces. While this household item works excellent for those uses, there are plenty of additional ways to get the most from rubbing alcohol. Whether you sprayed too much perfume or need to clean your digital devices, this staple provides all-in-one benefits for your cleaning and personal care needs. Here are 10 brilliant uses for rubbing alcohol that are simple yet effective — making household tasks hassle-free.
1. Restore cracked eye shadow.
Oops. While getting ready in the morning, you knocked your eye shadow compact off the bathroom sink and onto the floor, causing the powder to crumble inside. To the rescue: rubbing alcohol. Add 2 drops of the liquid to the crushed powder (the alcohol makes the powder malleable), then push it back into shape with a butter knife. Voilá!
2. Mask a fragrance overload.
The new perfume you got for Christmas is wonderful — so much so, you accidentally went overboard with the spritzing. The save: Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and sweep it over the areas you sprayed. The alcohol will evaporate some of the fragrance’s oils, reducing the scent.
3. Rid a car of strong odors.
A trip to the park so your dogs could enjoy the snow left your car with an unpleasant odor. The all-natural way to nix it: Mix one part water, one part rubbing alcohol and a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle. Then spritz over the car’s fabric. The alcohol kills odor-causing bacteria while the oil leaves behind a fresh scent. Ahh…that’s better!
4. Get a fire going in no time.
Curling up by a fire is one of your favorite ways to relax on a chilly night. The only problem? Getting the flame going can sometimes be a hassle. The solution: Fill an empty glass jar with rubbing alcohol, drop a few wine corks inside, then seal and store (away from the fireplace). When you’re ready to start a fire, toss a cork under the kindling and light as usual. The alcohol-soaked cork will catch easily and ignite the wood, so you can enjoy the flames.
5. Reveal crystal-clear windows.
It’s so frustrating when your commercial cleaner leaves smudges behind on your windows. The fix? Spritz glass with a mix of one cup of rubbing alcohol, one cup of water and one tablespoon of vinegar; wipe with a rag. Vinegar cuts through smudges and alcohol ensures the mix evaporates fast for a streak-free look.
6. Give your old jewelry new life.
Diamonds lose their sparkle? Soak them in a bowl of rubbing alcohol for 30 minutes — this helps disintegrate dirt and oil — then gently brush with an old toothbrush and rinse with warm water. Note: This is safe for clear stones set in silver, gold or platinum.
7. De-ice surfaces in a pinch.
An ice storm is coming and you’ve run out of rock salt. This DIY spray ensures slip-free surfaces: Fill a 32-ounce spray bottle with one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, ½ teaspoon of dish soap, and one quart of water. Spritz on outdoor walkways and stairs. The alcohol raises the freezing point of water while the dish soap prevents ice crystals from adhering to the ground. You’ll be able to walk outside worry-free.
8. Rid electronic screens of dust.
A low-cost way to clean dirt and dust off a computer, phone, or television screen: Combine one part rubbing alcohol and one part distilled water in a spray bottle. Spritz the solution on a clean coffee filter, then use it to wipe the screen. The alcohol will dissolve dirt and grime while the soft yet porous filter will absorb the dusty debris without leaving any scratches behind.
9. Quell motion sickness fast.
You’re looking forward to visiting your sister. The long car ride to get there? Not so much, thanks to car sickness. The cure: Keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol on hand and, as soon as you get that queasy feeling, open the bottle, hold it close to your nose, then take a deep breath. Studies have found that inhaling the liquid’s scent relieves even the most severe forms of nausea.
10. Nix a pup’s ear mite problem.
If Rover keeps scratching his ears and shaking his head back and forth, he may have ear mites, which are tiny organisms that thrive in moist environments. The at-home remedy: Dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and gently wipe it around Rover’s ears. Repeat once a week. The alcohol dries out the ear and kills mites on contact so your pup gets relief in no time.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.